Key Tasks Intelligent Conversation Automation Solutions Perform in Contact Centers | Market Insights™
Intelligent Conversation Automation
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Intelligent Conversation Automation
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Intelligent Conversation Automation
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Today, most companies have staff working from home due to the pandemic. Although customer experience management (CXM) agents aren’t essential workers in the truest sense, consumers sheltering in the safety of their homes for months on end have relied on them so heavily for wide-ranging reasons that they might as well have considered them so. What those consumers probably don’t know is that the call center agents assisting them are most likely working from home. In fact, our recent research report, Customer Experience Management (CXM) State of the Market Report 2021, found that the percentage of CXM FTEs working at home grew from less than 10 percent in 2019 to as much as 80 percent during the health crisis. While we expect that there will be some movement back towards the brick and mortar model in the coming months and years, many service providers and in-house contact centers will continue to utilize Work at Home Agents (WAHA) as a key component of their service delivery strategy.
Two WAHA models are currently in use. One is employee-based (E-WAHA), wherein the agents are on the service provider’s or company’s payroll. The other is contract-based (C-WAHA), wherein contractors are leveraged and only paid for the time they work for the organization.
In recent years, GigCX has emerged as an alternate approach to CXM staffing and is being utilized by the likes of organizations such as eBay and Microsoft. GigCX includes the use of freelance or self-employed workers to handle specific interaction types, leveraging an AI-powered technology platform. They are recruited for their existing knowledge and passion for the product and service.
Initially, GigCX was utilized for very simple work; however, those interactions are increasingly being eliminated or automated. Now, growing use of this model is for more complex query types that require a level of brand affinity and awareness, which can be a differentiator many GigCX providers are publicizing.
GigCX, which is often seen as another strain of the WAHA model, should not be confused with WAHA, as there are some fundamental differences in how the models operate.
When considering which approach is best to meet a set of business requirements, organizations should understand the following differences in the two models:
While we have seen both WAHA and GigCX being effective models for handling customer interactions, there are some stark differences in their operation. Any company considering using either model should assess the positives and negatives of the approaches and factor them into their operating model design. Both models are highly effective when utilized appropriately to handle the right interaction types, especially if all the limitations and dependencies are considered early in the design process.
For more information, please feel free to contact me at [email protected].
Everest Group’s Sharang Sharma will share his insights on the future of contact centers on a webinar hosted by Amelia, an IPSoft company.
The global pandemic reminded us about the need to implement AI and automation technologies in contact centers to augment and scale human call center agents. It is anticipated that contact centers will never retreat to a pre-pandemic state, since consumer and business interactions have been irrevocably transformed to adjust to COVID-era buying and spending habits.
The panel of speakers will discuss the AI technologies that must be in place to optimize call center operations hinged on a hybrid workforce of digital and human agents. They will also discuss strategies to elevate customer experiences.
Wednesday, January 27, 9 am PST, 9 am CST, 10 am EST, 4 pm BST, 8:30 pm IST
Live, virtual event
VP – Global Practice Head, Cloud and Infrastructure Services
Chief Commercial Officer
Amelia, an IPsoft Company
Everest Group is once again the featured Knowledge Partner of the 2018 Contact Islands conference, “Leading with CX in a Digital World,” presented by the Contact Center Association of the Philippines (CCAP).
Managing Partner Eric Simonson and Research Partner H. Karthik will be key speakers during the event.
Eric will lead a session titled, “The Empowered Customer in the Age of Digital Care”
Session summary: Industries across the globe are facing profound paradigm shifts driven by new business models, supported by innovative, disruptive innovations. Amidst the changing business landscape, the focus on customers has become even more critical than ever before. This session aims to build a better understanding of the “new-age” customer and their expectations, focusing on both existing customer segments as well as millennials. The session re-inforces the importance of staying focused on customers while in the midst of adopting new models and undergoing transformation.
Karthik will moderate a session titled, “Gearing Up for the Hybrid Workforce: Humans + Machines”
Session summary: Next gen technologies such as AI, automation, and advanced analytics is changing the way companies operates. As humans and machines work more closely and collaborate, processes can become more fluid and adaptive and help organizations become more innovative and profitable. This session brings in the views of the leading industry voices on how they are getting ready for this shift and the kind of the steps they are taking, including the changes coming to the overall CX approach. Further, it explores how the collaborative Human + Machine service delivery model will enhance outcomes and result in more impact than ever before.
July 25-26, 2018
Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa
Eric Simonson, Managing Partner, Everest Group
H. Karthik, Partner, Research, Everest Group
All types of artificial intelligence (AI) technology – from machine learning to natural language processing to cognitive computing – are being leveraged by enterprises to drive better customer experiences and process efficiency. Based on our market research, more than one-third of enterprises have prioritized adoption of AI-powered customer experience management (CXM) solutions in the next two to three years.
Despite these challenges, AI can be a key contributor to upping organizations’ competitive capabilities in the contact center space.
But, to derive real, tangible, sustainable benefits from AI, we recommend enterprises carefully address the following considerations when attempting to operationalize their AI deployments.
There’s no question that AI is a key enabler in driving personalized, targeted customer service. But how enterprises embrace it will mean the difference between also-ran and game-changer status.
To hear more about how some of the leading brands are strengthening their customer experience delivery, the role of next-gen technologies, and how the Philippines’ contact center industry is matching the pace of the global industry-wide disruption, we invite you to join us at the Contact Center Association of the Philippines’ annual Contact Islands conference on July 25 and 26.
Everest Group is the knowledge partner for this annual event, and two of our executives – Eric Simonson and Karthik H – will be moderating plenary sessions.
Top tips for both enterprises and service providers
Service Delivery Automation (SDA) adoption can see positive results as quickly as 9-15 months for RDA and RPA and 18-24 months for chatbots
Customers have stopped thinking about channels. It’s the experience that matters to them now – regardless of the channel they choose at any point of time. Thus, it’s no surprise that 73 percent of buyers responding to Everest Group’s 2016/17 Contact Center Outsourcing (CCO) surveys and interviews rated omnichannel as their top priority for adoption, and that 23 percent of buyers want to integrate the face-to-face customer touchpoints with their contact centers.
Regardless of this intention, very few enterprises have achieved delivering a true omnichannel experience or built competitive advantage through exceptional CX.
Challenge 1: Lack of strategic leadership support: Most omnichannel transition efforts lack direct involvement from senior leadership to prioritize investments, communicate urgency for transition, and mitigate any implementation roadblocks. This contributes to misplaced priorities and execution inefficiencies.
Solution: An internal transition team consisting of experienced senior leadership can be set up to manage and drive the organization-wide change towards omnichannel.
Challenge 2: Inadequate focus on human capital challenges: Omni-channel investment decisions are primarily focused on technologies and solutions. But even with sophisticated tools and technologies in place, lack of investment in human capital makes it difficult to practically achieve the desired outcomes.
Solution: Organizations need to place equal importance on investments in human capital and begin their omnichannel transition efforts by assessing the talent requirements to manage omnichannel CX.
Challenge 3: Organizational skills gap for omnichannel: IT teams often lack the necessary skills to support the integration of tools, channels, and databases. Contact center managers also require upskilling on sophisticated technologies, systems, and processes to effectively manage omnichannel contact centers. Agents, usually trained in supporting individual channels, have limited knowledge to work across multiple channels.
Solution: Enterprises should conduct a gap analysis to identify training requirements for the existing talent at all levels of the organization, with the necessary skills for omni-channel and hire for new profiles. They should also revise employee performance metrics and align the incentives with common omnichannel KPIs
Challenge 4: Historically siloed functions and channels: Lack of integrated front-office functions such as sales, marketing, and customer service with back-office functions such as business intelligence, reporting, procurement, inventory management, etc., makes it impossible to create a unified view about customers.
Solution: Back-to-front office integration is crucial for a great end-to-end customer journey. The first step to achieving this is through customer journey mapping for all end-to-end processes to identify changing behaviors, capture unmet expectations, optimize processes, and encourage cross-functional collaboration.
Challenge 5: Lack of clarity on requirements for data integration from all channels: Enterprises are not clear about the business and operational needs to support data integration across all channels. Management of disparate CRM, voice and other technology systems also hinder integration.
Solution: Enterprises need to assess the implications of data standardization and integration across channels and identify an appropriate mix of tools to achieve integration of disparate datasets and applications.
Challenge 6: Incompatible legacy systems: Most legacy systems in enterprises, especially CRM systems and voice technologies, are incompatible with omnichannel platforms and solutions. This leads to inconsistency in capturing and transferring data to achieve a unified view of customers in a single platform.
Solution: Enterprises should adopt non-invasive omnichannel platforms and solutions that can seamlessly communicate with their legacy systems.
To learn more, check out Everest Group’s two-part study on omnichannel customer experience: “From Multi-Channel to Omni-Channel Customer Experience,” and “Delivering Omni-Channel Customer Experience.” Both include checklists to help enterprises successfully plan and execute their transition to omnichannel. And, please feel free to share your omnichannel experiences with us: Katrina Menzigian ([email protected]) and Jayapriya K ([email protected].)
Enterprises and their contact center operations are increasingly adopting self-service technologies to improve the customer experience. Over the past several years, chatbots have become one of the most embraced. And it’s easy to see why.
First generation chatbots were software programs that could hold a natural conversation on a text-based channel such as chat, email, or social media. Modern day chatbots’ capabilities – interchangeably called virtual agents – have leapfrogged ahead through use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, and Natural Language Processing (NLP), which allow them to understand free flowing language and generate real-time responses. They are no longer bound to a single channel, but instead cover the entire ambit of services, including voice support. This helps them fit well with enterprises’ broader omnichannel strategy, as they can deliver a seamless experience across channels.
Unlike earlier versions, today’s chatbots can even contextualize information in a conversation. Here’s an example:
Jim: I would like to know the status of my flight. It’s booking # PNR AZ12356.
Chatbot: Hi Jim, checking into it. It appears that your flight’s departure will be delayed by 4 hours, due to scheduling changes.
Jim: Can you cancel it and check for an earlier flight in the morning?
As per your request, I have cancelled your flight American Airlines 235 from Boston to New York. Based on your past bookings, I have three suggestions for alternative flights on the same day:
Jim: Book one ticket in the second option.
Chatbot: Confirming availability. Based on your preferences, would you like me to book an aisle seat, and select a bruschetta omelet with coffee for breakfast?
Jim: Yes, that will be great.
Chatbot: Excellent. Your flight Delta 2471 from BOS to JFK will depart at 0600 hours on October 30, 2017. Your seat number is 4C. I have sent a copy of the ticket to your personal email id. Have a safe flight.
Notice how the chatbot contextualized the information based on unstructured and more natural language flow, and offered recommendations based on the user’s past preferences. These degrees of evolution have made chatbots much more self-service capable, and are significantly enhancing the experience that contact centers deliver to their client’s customers.
The end goal for today’s enterprises is to deliver the best possible omnichannel customer experience. Chatbots can help customers solve problems on their preferred channel of communication (voice and non-voice). However, the technology does have shortcomings. The well-known example of Microsoft’s Tay – a Twitter-based intelligent bot that had to be pulled down within 16 hours of deployment due to offensive tweets – highlights one technology gap that needs to be addressed.
Everest Group’s just released viewpoint entitled, “Chatbots Delivering Enhanced Customer Experience: It’s Easy to Get It Wrong” details how chatbots can fit in enterprises’ omnichannel strategy, the risks they need to be aware of, and how they can mitigate them.